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Border Security

McConnell Hopes Trump Will Back Imperfect Deal to Avert Another Gov’t Shutdown

Kentucky Republican stresses 'good job' on proposal even as president says 'at first glance' he's not happy

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday said the deal to avert another government shutdown isn’t perfect — but he’s still hoping President Donald Trump will sign it.

“I think it’s a good step in the right direction,” McConnell said during a press conference.

The Republican leader said the deal furthers the goal of securing the southern border.

But that deal only offers a small portion of the funds the president has demanded for a border security wall.

Related: Trump: Walls Are ‘Moral,’ Other Technology Doesn’t Mean a Thing

Trump and lawmakers have to fund the rest of the government before another shutdown would occur on Friday.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) was among the party leaders who joined the majority leader for the press conference; he’s on the conference committee that devised the deal.

The short-term spending bill that ended the earlier government shutdown gave lawmakers only three weeks to reach a compromise starting on January 25.

“I think Chairman Shelby and the Democrats on a bipartisan basis did a good job,” McConnell said. “From a Republican point of view, there is money in there for new barrier fencing, and there is no cap on interior enforcement. It’s not everything the president hoped to get, but I think it’s a good step in the right direction. I hope he’ll decide to sign it.”

Related: Trump Unhappy with Budget Proposal Yet Doesn’t Foresee Another Shutdown

The conference committee came to a tentative deal late Monday; it includes $1.375 billion to build 55 miles of new border barriers.

Trump has demanded a lot more money for the construction of a southern border wall at $5.7 billion.

The proposal reached Monday would also use funds for vertical steel slats called bollards instead of for a solid concrete wall.

Trump already said on Tuesday he wasn’t happy with a tentative deal “at first glance.” But he also expressed optimism that something will be worked out in time. He told reporters he was thrilled with the direction the negotiations have been going.

He also said the border wall will be built “regardless.”

As “with any negotiated agreement, [the new deal is] not perfect,” Shelby said during the Tuesday press conference. “You don’t get everything you want. I didn’t get everything I wanted out of this. But I think overall, considering we’re dealing with a Republican Senate and president and a Democratic House, this is a down payment on where the president wants to go and we want to go with him. That is to secure the borders.”

Shelby promised more details are likely to emerge soon, as the conference committee is looking to file the bills as early as Wednesday.

That will leave only a few days to pass and sign the package before a new shutdown would happen. But if the president warms up to the proposal, it could start moving very quickly.

“We made some concessions but we got some, too,” Shelby said. “We believe the caucus will support this. I believe the House will support this and we hope the president will support it. As we release more of the details, we’re putting seven bills together. Not just Homeland Security, which has been the linchpin here, but the other six as well. We hope to file them maybe late tomorrow night.”

Trump first heard that a possible deal was reached right before his campaign-style rally in El Paso, Texas, on Monday night. He dedicated a lot of his speech to the issue during the rally. He has previously argued the wall is critical to deterring illegal drugs and criminal gangs during press conferences throughout the shutdown as well.

He also dedicated his first Oval Office address to the issue.

Trump said late last year he would not sign any more spending bills that did not include border wall funding.

Democratic leaders opposed providing any funding for the wall — which led both sides to cause a partial government shutdown on December 22. But the president eventually backed off his veto threat by signing the short-term bill on January 25.

McConnell also said during the press conference that he plans to allow the progressive and radical Green New Deal resolution to come up for a vote.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) recently introduced the environmentally friendly proposal. Those opposed warn it would be extremely expensive and damaging to the economy. Trump himself likened it to a “high school term paper that got a low mark.”

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Connor D. Wolf covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at [email protected].